In workers’ compensation, the injured workers get to choose of his or her own doctor. The insurance company doctor is referred to as a Second Medical Opinion (SMO) doctor. You are required to be seen by the SMO if the insurance company request you do so. However, they are limited to the types of treating physicians you have. If you have an orthopedist, they get one. If you have a pain management doctor, they get one. However, the SMO will generally only see you once. He or she is not treating you and will not prescribe anything. They are simply reviewing your records and examining you in order to issue a report to the Adjuster to advise if the treatment you are getting is necessary, whether he or she believes you can work, whether your injuries are the result of your work-accident, etc.
If there is a disagreement between your Choice of Physician (COP) and the SMO, the state or Court can appoint an Independent Medical Examiner (IME). He or she, like the SMO, will review your medical records, exam you and write a report. However, because the IME is considered neutral, his or her decision is generally final and cannot easily be challenged. The IME could result in your claim coming to an end.
Consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney before being seen by an IME and preferably before being seen by an SMO.